Agricultural Burning Q&A

What is agricultural burning?

How do you obtain a burn permit?

What happens on a burn day?

What are the drying methods & times?

How do you calculate the tonnage of material to be burned?

Fire Tips


For Agricultural Burning Information: (805) 303-3889
For Agricultural Burn Status: (805) 303-3888



Ventura County is an agricultural community, and as such, burn days are a reality here. Authorized by state legislation, the APCD must allow, but may regulate, agricultural burn days. In Ventura County there are approximately 350 permitted burns each year, disposing about 50,000 tons of material.


Our goal is to pick appropriate days for burning to avoid public health problems. In our effort to regulate agricultural burning and protect public health we try to pick days and time periods that will maximize smoke dispersion. We even restrict the amount of agricultural material that can be burned. Prior to designating a burn day and time period the APCD coordinates our efforts with the Ventura County Fire and the California Air Resources Board. The Agricultural Burning Forecast for all six county areas is updated at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily. A map of the County’s six burn regions can be found on the Agricultural Burning Forecast page.


What is agricultural burning?

Agricultural burning is any outdoor fire used in agricultural operations for growing crops, raising fowl or animals. Agricultural waste is unwanted plant material produced wholly from agricultural operations such as:


  • Trees and tree trimmings
  • Grass, weeds and trimmings from windbreaks in or adjacent to fields in cultivation or being prepared for cultivation
  • Vegetation being cleared from presently uncultivated or ungrazed land to establish an agricultural operation


All plant material burned must be related to the agricultural operation. Trash may never be burned. If it didn’t grow on your property, you can’t burn it.


Clearing agricultural land for the purpose of non-agricultural development or for fire hazard clearance is not considered agricultural burning and not allowed with an agricultural burn permit. Refer to APCD Rule 56, Open Burning, for specific details. Click here for a copy of Rule 56.


How do you obtain a burn permit?

Burn permits are available from the Ventura County Fire station closest to the burn location. VC Fire will inspect your agricultural waste piles for fire safety and compliance with APCD Rule 56. It is illegal to conduct any type of agricultural burn without a permit. (California Health & Safety Code Section 41852)


Anyone conducting an illegal burn will receive a Notice of Violation and is subject to a fine or referral to the District Attorney’s office for prosecution. Additional fees could include fire suppression costs.


You must include the number, size and approximate weight of the piles, and number of acres cleared. (A burn tonnage calculation formula is on the reverse side of the permit.) You must also include the burn location and cell phone number of the on-site person. No more than 300 tons-per-day may be burned. Report the tons burned after each burn day to APCD at (805) 303-3889.


Burn regions within Ventura County


1. Coastal shore and coastal plain (Ventura/Oxnard/Camarillo)

2. Ojai Valley & surrounding rural areas

3. Santa Clara River Valley from Santa Paula to Piru

4. Simi Valley & Moorpark

5. Conejo Valley (Thousand Oaks & Newbury Park)

6. Northern Ventura County, primarily area of Los Padres National Forest


For planning purposes, a “Burn Day” or “No Burn Day” designation is provided twice daily - - at 8:30 a.m. & 4:30 p.m.


There are three burn periods during the day (1) Early morning, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (2) Late Morning, 10 a.m. to Noon, (3) & Afternoon, Noon to 4 p.m.


To access the burn day designation


  • Call the APCD burn line at (805) 303-3888 for recorded information
  • Call (805) 303-3889 for notification via fax or email
  • Check for Burn/No Burn days on this website


What happens on a burn day?

Once you’ve received a permit and a burn day is declared, notify the local VC Fire Station of your proposed burn. Only devices approved by VC Fire may be used to ignite the material. APCD meteorologists designate burn days by predicting weather conditions. They watch for specific weather patterns that provide the best conditions for smoke dispersal. Smoke must rise high in the atmosphere and spread out, not stay close to the ground. Depending upon these conditions, APCD may declare partial burn days in one or more regions while other regions may not be allowed to burn. Burns are not allowed during the following conditions: ground fog, low coastal clouds, stagnant air conditions, during the Santa Ana winds, anytime smoke stays on the ground, or if there are too many burns in one area.


What are the drying methods & times?

Moist or “green” wood or vegetation produces too much smoke and burns slower than dry wood. Therefore, all materials must be dry before burning. You may only burn materials grown on the property. Stack or arrange the material allowing for maximum air circulation, easy combustion and minimal smoke emissions. Smoldering fires must be mixed, stirred or condensed when safe and practical.


Minimum drying times


Trees or branches exceeding 3” in diameter 6 weeks
Pruning, small branches & other vegetation 3” or less in diameter 3 weeks


Longer drying times may be needed due to material density and/or time of year.


How do you calculate the tonnage of material to be burned?

Calculate the tonnage of material by taking the acreage and multiplying by the tons/acre factor listed in the tables below.


Example: for 10 acres of citrus orchard removed
(10 acres) x (30 tons/acre) = 300 tons of burn material


The following tables list factors to be used when calculating tonnage of agricultural waste, and for range improvement and weed abatement (Source: Cal EPA, Air Resources Board, 1994). These factors assume the burn material is dry.





Orchard Removal
Avocado 1.5 30 Bean 2.5
Citrus 1.0 30 Corn 4.2
Walnut 1.2 30 Hay 1.0
Other 1.5 30 Vegetables 1.0
      Others 2.0




  (tons/acre)     (tons/acre)
Brush and Grass 7.5   Ditchbank and Canal 3.0
Chaparral 22.5   Weeds 3.5
Slash (Forest Improvement) 70   Grass 2.0
      Tumbleweeds 0.1


Fire Tips

Do not use tires, tarpaper, plastics, oils or other similar materials to ignite piles

Ignite the material as rapidly as possible following appropriate fire safety rules

Ignite one pile and wait 30 minutes to determine smoke direction & ash travel

Know where the smoke is traveling – do not burn if smoke is staying close to the ground or moving toward populated areas, especially schools, hospitals, nursing homes, etc.

If smoke direction and ash travel conditions are met, continue burning.


On the day of the burn, you must have your burn permit & cell phone at the burn site. You must also comply with all restrictions noted on the permit. You may not burn if the date on the permit has expired. Agricultural burning is not permitted on Sundays, Holidays, or Holiday weekends. If you have any questions call (805) 303-3889.